After more than five days of deliberation, a jury in Boston has found notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger guilty of nearly all the charges leveled against him, including multiple murders. Each guilty verdict on the two main counts — on one count of "racketeering conspiracy" and one count of "racketeering substantive offense" — carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The 83-year-old Bulger was facing a total of 32 criminal counts (and was found guilty on 31 of them), including weapons charges, money laundering, and racketeering. While he was not specifically charged with murder, there were 19 acts of murder that are covered under the count of "Racketeering Substantive Offense." While the jury ruled that not all the murders could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, he only needed to be found guilty of just two of the 33 sub-acts of the racketeering count, in order for the entire charge to stick. In the end, the jury ruled there was enough evidence to prove Bulger's involvement in 11 murders.
The sensational trial became a dramatic reading of Bulger's long and violent career in South Boston, as former allies and enemies testified about committing murders and other crimes right alongside Bulger. He got into expletive-filled shouting matches with more than one witness during the testimony, while yet another potential witness was murdered before the trial was finished. (Although his death appears to be unrelated to the case.)
Bulger was on the lam for nearly 17 years, spending most of that time on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list, after fleeing his original racketeering indictment in 1994. He was found and arrested in 2011, living in Santa Monica, California, with his girlfriend, and was returned to Boston to face his charges.
What added even more intrigue to the case was that Bulger spent 19 years of his criminal career as an FBI informant. While at the height of his power, Bulger took advantage of his special relationship with authorities (many of whom were themselves corrupt) to take out his enemies and solidify his own control of organized crime in Boston, a fact that became a major embarrassment to the FBI after it was revealed to the public. Jack Nicholson's two-faced mobster in the 2006 film The Departed was very loosely based on the legend of Bulger.
Bulger sentencing hearing will be in November of this year.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.